We invited Rose Aliano from Kumi, Eastern Uganda, to describe her project to engage men in maternal and infant health in Uganda.
According to Save Mothers, Give Life Report 2014, approximately 6,000 preventable maternal deaths occur annually in Uganda, translating into an estimated national maternal mortality ratio of 438 per 100,000 live births.
This ratio is still high despite government’s efforts to strengthen Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 through various interventions, including inviting men to engage as clients, supporters, advocates and active participants in reproductive health. Men’s involvement is a crucial component in the uptake of reproductive health services aimed at improving both women’s health and the men’s own health.
However, in Kumi Health Centre IV in Uganda, male involvement in seeking reproductive health services has reduced. HIV testing among pregnant women is high, with 100% of women who attend their first antenatal clinic visit receiving HIV testing and counselling services. Meanwhile, male partner testing is about 50% and the rest remain with unknown HIV status.
In this kind of situation, there is a high risk of HIV infection. Educating men on issues regarding pregnancy, birth preparedness, HIV/AIDS and their roles in supporting their partners is crucial for improving the outcomes of pregnancy in both mothers and their babies.
Less than 2% of men are seen coming for family planning services during postnatal contacts at the health facility. This means that a majority of men miss a lot of information regarding their partner’s health and yet they are key decision makers in their families. Reproductive health is still seen as women’s issue and engaging men in services would greatly promote gender equality.
The reasons for men’s low engagement at Kumi Health Centre IV are still unclear, and if these reasons can be identified and addressed, men can significantly influence and support women’s uptake and continuing use of services as well as their own sexual health.
We are establishing a new project to tackle these issues.
The vision is to Improve male involvement in maternal, neonatal and child health and address the barriers to their involvement.
The main objective is to develop a model of intervention to support male involvement in reproductive health services.
Photo: Hayden Paulsen. Creative Commons.